Clues and Grid by Sirius
Theme: Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana
The winner of the August puzzle is Bobbie Stainthorp of Keswick.
Review of the August 2022 3D crossword
When beginning to solve Sirius’s August puzzle, I had no idea what the subject was. In my book, that’s a win for the setter before you start. The picture suggested astronomy, though why a lot of peanuts should be floating around the Earth’s South Pole I had no idea. I was assuming the background showed a supernova; what was in the NW corner was, and remains, a mystery. I am torn between a wedding cake and a piece of electronic engineering. So, although I managed to solve the puzzle in a couple of sessions and realised that we were dealing with the death of stars, some unknown factors remain.
What I am not propounding is a conspiracy. Sirius is quite freewheeling enough, without the involvement of Special Forces (either side of the Atlantic) or extra-terrestrials to populate his grids and complicate matters.
In case anyone didn’t work out who it was about, it was two of those figures for whom there is instant popular recognition just on hearing a first name: Marilyn and Diana.
My first answer was LURGI, beautifully clued by both Eric Westbrook (Sirius) and Frank Paul. It is a typical Sirius stroke to use ‘languidly’ to indicate the absence of E – energy. No-one else would dare. We wouldn’t and shouldn’t dare… to complain. After all, it’s Sirius’s ball: he made it (blasphemy is not intended here) and he can take it home.
What else did I really like? TOOK OFF is one of those phrasal verbs which give foreign learners of English such grief, but which are rich in idiomatic meaning: Sirius seized the opportunity perfectly. The clue for CANDLE features just what you can do with letters for numbers if you are clever (Sirius is) and what sort of allusions you can throw around if you don’t feel absolutely bound by the half-century-old ‘rules’ of setting (Sirius, one is inclined to feel at times, doesn’t). We can be given a tour of old craftsmen before the days of sail-lofts, corn and Friends; we can remember Raymond C’s unique prose and perhaps even catch a glimpse of Wee Willie Winkie’s whisked gown.
YOUK was very nicely composed to combine the Scottishness and one of the films; ALIKE suggested one of the stories I do know; the NERVES and NEVER-NEVER were splendidly worked. Above all, CRED conjured up a famous picture, while the double meaning of standing on street was a beautiful touch which made this my favourite clue: similarly getting off barbs, though like so much here, tinged with the sadness of a double example of waste.
I enjoyed looking up, for the purpose of checking, the nugget of knowledge we were given on Day 19: Chambers confirms. (How I wish present-day shoelaces were made with practicality in mind rather than the dictates of fashion.)
And there you are, you see: being a perpetual fogy I was never going to be the one to catch all the allusions in this puzzle. I remember Jane from the Tarzan films, but not the song the clue refers to: all I know of Kansas City is that it’s not where you might imagine, that everything is up-to-date there, and that if you needed someone to run after your missed train, Tyreek Hill would be your man.
So I can’t comment sagely on the WINK, JANE, WHOOT and probably other things which most people knew about and I didn’t even notice. Not quite my scene or enthusiasm, though I do love Some Like it Hot, and had great respect for the late princess’s humanitarian work, especially in war zones. August 1962 and 1997 will be remembered with great sadness over loss; but in the first case I was, like Taupin and John, too young to know about it, and in the second I was faintly bewildered by some aspects of the public displays of mourning.
What I did do, in 1974, was buy Candle in the Wind, first time round. Not the record, which by the way I think only reached about number 18 in the charts: but the sheet music. And I was horrified when I found it was (?) in E flat, which is a sore trial for a mediocre guitarist who doesn’t like the capodastro. On which score (h’m) it was a shame there was no room for Bernie Taupin in the puzzle. At least I now realise that the peanuts were in fact rose petals, from the song’s second incarnation.
What did I like less? I may be shot down here, but though I love the appearance of the sphere format, it has its weaknesses. On the Arctic/Antarctic Circle levels, you either have to have a lot of short words, or abbreviations, or no words at all. (Maybe that doesn’t matter?) And we only got up to one clue a day because of a sort of calendarised Easter Egg. Anyone going through the fantastic archives available online may well spot some earlier puzzles with cylinders and even combination lock barrels. What are we waiting for, setters? I think that as grids those may be even more attractive than the globe.
One thing I was interested to see was the entry for Day 24: BB. That venerable French animal rights campaigner, earlier ‘sex kitten’ (?) and most recently a controversial figure with extreme Right links, has also been partly responsible for something which might have saved some famous lives, including possibly at least one of those depicted here. Publish a story in France revealing any unauthorised private details, and the law will see you in serious trouble. The French press therefore does not hound its own entertainment stars as some elements of ours do: to occasionally horrific effect.
You have to be familiar with 1980s arcade games for this one. Here we have one of the famous Mario Bros. We know it’s Luigi because he’s sporting his initial on his hat. The arrows indicate a rook (R) should replace the one (I) in Luigi’s middle. Thus, we have:
LU(-i)(+R)GI = LURGI
Clues and explanations
Thematic solutions are indicated with an asterisk.
|Day||Solution||Direction, Clue, Count||Explanation|
|1||CANDLE*||4W-6 One hundred and fifty-fifth lyrical work of Chandler (before The Big Sleep) (6)||C + AND + L + E|
Chandlers make candles
‘The Big Sleep’ refers to death following ‘candle’ in Elton John’s song. Plus assisting obfuscation of Raymond Chandler – useful for clue 1.
|2||CARAT||4di Get measure of best friend’s girl? On the contrary. It’s about returning sailor (5)||Measure of weight of girl’s best friend, diamonds, ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’ sung by MM in pink dress in Gentlemen prefer Blondes 1953. MM’s first husband a sailor. Problem on returning.|
|3||NERVES||5di 1 in 8’s monkey business with butterflies (6)||(NEVER)* + S|
Monkey Business’ anagram signal and 1952 ref to MM’s psychological problems
|4||LURGI||6di Languidly attract US soldier with it (though dreaded by Goons) (5)||LUR(E) + GI|
‘Lurgi’ referred to as ‘it’ in childish games
Dreaded lurgi from Milligan in the Goons show.
Languidly suggests lack of energy,. Pushing it, but this is a 3D crossword.
|5||IN THE WIND*||7W-9 Approaching end within breakdown (2,3,4)||(END WITHIN)*|
Ref mental frailties
|6||CLING TO*||8di-3(11o’cl),7W-2,9S-2,14di-2 Such a peach on film to cherish (5,2)||CLING peach and CLING film|
Surface redolent of admiration for acclaimed actress
|7||CRED*||8di-4(5o’cl) Standing on street taken aback enveloped by delicious undercurrents (4)||Reverse hidden and ref to famous scene in ‘The Seven Year Itch’ 1954|
|8||NEVER-NEVER*||9N-5,9N-3,1D-3 Shattered 3 in land of|
make believe (5-5)
|(NERVE)* + (NERVE)*|
Never Never Land
|9||HAVE AT||10N-6 Condition blowing cold and hot starting attack (4,2)||H + (c)AVEAT|
|10||WIELDY||11N-2,3di,2S-3 Widely suspect it is controlled easily (6)||(WIDELY)*|
|11||NOVAE||12N-5 Switched working with Various Artists (Elton initially) to make heavenly dramatic appearances (5)||Cryptic def novae describes MM acting|
ON< + VA + E(lton John)
|12||KNOWING*||13S-7 Kind of look Adam gave Eve after a bite? (7)||Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge|
And nudge, nudge, say no more
|13||KICKING||13di Evidence of vivacious life getting off barbs perhaps (7)||Alive and KICKING also kicking drugs ref barbiturates (cause of death) ref dance high kicks.|
|14||TOOK OFF||14di Stripped, made an impression and left the ground (4,3)||3 defs and ref early career|
|15||YOUK||16di-4 Irritation after seven years in Scotland — nothing in bad taste (4)||Y(O)UK ‘Seven Year Itch’ 1955 Scots word for ‘itch’|
(MM plays ukulele in ‘Some Like It Hot’)
|16||ALIKE*||17di-5 Related with a liberal post-war president (5)||A + L + IKE|
Ref JFK conspiracy theories rumours
Alike: related: Thesaurus.com
Ref ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’
|17||KEITH||21di(4o’cl) Some like it hot! Richards for example. (5)||Rolling Stone Keith Richards|
1952 with MM
|18||FROW||19S-4 Eg Dietrich recorded in loud argument for device to assist cleavage (4)||Dietricht German woman “Frau” common use in US homophone|
F + ROW
|19||WAX END||20S-3,33di,31N-2 How cobblers stiffen resolve when the lights go out. X! (3,3)||When wax used up, the candle goes out. Wax put on end of thread to assist going though hole in leather. X is at the end of waX.|
|20||WINK*||20di-4 Iconic moment in wide print (4)||W + INK|
MM’s wink world famous
|21||KNEW*||21D Sound crew including number and right away started reproduction biblically (4)||Homophone “K(r)EW” K(N)EW|
Biblical carnal knpw;edge
|22||GOODBYE NORMA JEAN*||22W (thematic deduction) (7,5,4)||Solvers use checking letters and knowledge of theme.This will help to supply letters to unsolved clues.|
|23||GONE ON||22di,26E-2 Dead loves. What’s happened? (4,2)||3 meanings – gone on to glory, totally gone on ie have a crush one, and what’s been going on.|
|24||B B||23di-2 French blonde bombshell (1,1)||Shell of B(om)B Brigitte Bardot|
|25||YAE||24N-3 Single Scots yearn at sea to leave the navy behind (3)||(YERAN)* -RN|
|26||MONROE*||27di Foxy lady once: sadly no more (6)||Century Fox (NO MORE)*|
|27||JANE||28di-3,25 Less favoured brunette friend (‘too pretty for Kansas City) and mate of swinger on Vine (4)||Jane Russell in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ 1953 friend of MM whom she called ‘Blondie’.|
JR sings ‘Aint anyone here for love’ which contains line #Too Pretty for Kansas City’ in unpublished audio (Youtube accessible) Fats Domino sings ‘Kansas City’ with lyric ‘12th on Vine’ 12th incidentally is now a five acre patch of grass.
Obfuscation. Swinger on Vine refs Tarzan..
|28||A AND E||29di Facility for unintentional OD perhaps ends in 11 or 25 (1,3,1)||NOVAE and YAE end in AE ie A and E|
Unintentional OD is Both an accident and an emergency
Ref coroner’s verdict of probable suicide uncertainty
|29||SWEET||32S-5 Candy-cute ballroom blitzers like cheesecake. Mm — that’s nice! (5)||Multiple meanings 6?|
British pop group ‘Sweet’ ‘s most well known song was ‘Ballroom Blitz’
|30||WHOOT||34N-3(via orange path),15,14 How to Clash by Night perhaps? (5)||Ref Clash by Night early film 1952|
Owls hoot to demonstrate territory, communicate with mate and owlets, but also to warn off other males.
|31||GOODBYE ENGLAND’S ROSE*||Select a word from the grid and complete a phrase with an anagram of the twelve asterisked cells (7,8,4)|
|Easter egg||I NEVER KNEW YOU||7W-2,9N-3,1D,16di-3 (1,5,4,3)||Lyrics of Candle in the Wind in grid|
|Easter egg||LIKE A CANDLE IN THE WIND||18di-4,17,4W (4,1,6,2,3,4)||Lyrics of Candle in the Wind in grid|
|Easter egg||NEVER KNOWING WHO TO CLING TO||9N,34N-4,34N-3,14di-2,8di,7W-2,9S-2,14di-2 (5,7,3,2,5,2)||Lyrics of Candle in the Wind in grid|
Very neatly fitted together [GL]
Nice construction, with just the right level of difficulty. One quibble — she was originally Norma Jeane. [TH]
A tricky work-out with the spherical grid. Thanks for this lyrical reminder of two melancholy anniversaries! [NI]
Clever theme, which, of course, helped massively once we got it! A new word, always a bonus, and a delight to see “WIELDY”. A couple of parsings were guesswork, so looking forward to seeing the full solution. [CW]
The concept of imagining standing at the other side of the globe and heading west took some serious thinking about! There appears to be a mistake in the directions for NEVER KNOWING WHO TO CLING TO. [SC]
Excellent puzzle. [RG]
A combination of not being alphabetical, a fiendish grid with fiddly directions for inserting answers, the vaguest reference to the theme, some obscure words and a few oblique parsings made this a difficult and at times frustrating solve – it was a relief to finally twig the connections and complete the grid. Shame about the error in number count for the Easter eggs. The hardest workout I’ve had in 3D crossword land so far! Thanks Sirius [JC]
The optional extras were very helpful to fill a few gaps, though the second element should be 13S-7 and is incorrect here and on the calendar. I bought the album when it came out – 1974? 6. “on film” ? 20 and 23 also somewhat puzzling. [MJ]
Some unusual words! [EW]
I always look at Sirius’s 3D shapes with a little trepidation, and initial stabs got me pretty much nowhere, but as before an alchemic divination seems to kick in and the mysteries of what is going on begin to reveal themselves. As ever, it’s a ‘Bravo’ from me! [PA]
Well crafted puzzle with lots of relevant solutions bringing together two well known anniversaries. [JP]
The picture misled me into thinking the themes were space-related, till all the film references put me onto the right track for Marilyn Monroe. It took longer to see the Princess Diana theme, though. Some great clues, I especially liked 2, 4 and 9. Thanks, Sirius! [RS]
I enjoyed this, particularly when the song lyrics fell into place. I do find that the sphere grid makes my brain ache though! The concentration needed to follow the routes must be good for me but I did get confused by S and D. Thanks again. [HH]
Thank you to Sirius for an ingenious use of the linked anniversaries of Marilyn Monroe and Princess Di, linked here by all the references to Elton John’s original lyrics, later adapted for the “English Rose” version. Some very tough clues here so I’m not sure I’ve got everything correct. I must say the spherical layout continues to prove challenging especially in terms of trying to get all the directions right. [JA]
Fun 😎 [DM]
Amazing construction and impossible to pick a favourite clue as they are all so brilliant. [PD]
Very hard to get started (no alphabetical order of clues makes such a difference) but actually fairly easy once I had got past the first few clues and cracked the methods of entry! Once V, K & W in the central core were established, it gave a hand with a large number of intersecting clues – was that deliberate, I wonder? I’m afraid I continue to prize concision above all else in crossword clues, so the almost obsessive convolutedness here with multiple definitions and extraneous words did grate on me by the end! But now that it is over I can appreciate the intricacies of the thematic links. [EF]
“The candle died out long ago but the legend never will” says it all. [HB]
Wow. So complicated but very enjoyable. Particularly liked the triple and even quadruple definitions. Thank you! [JT]
That was a tricky one! Thanks to Sirius, I’ve now pulled even more of my sparse hair out! It took a lot longer than usual, but a very enjoyable challenge👌Thanks [MN]
I do not understand why 24 was even there- the second letter is unchecked. In fact, there seem to be a lot of sloppy unchecked letters (nearly all of “kicking”, right?!). A three dimensional diagram gives you more opportunities to check- take them. [AB]
Took a long time to get started, but once we had the theme the lyrics just rolled off the tongue. [J&JH]
Very challenging [RS]
Oh my goodness! Sirius never ceases to amaze us. Only he could be clever enough to link the anniversaries of the deaths of Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana and to weave them into a puzzle of this complexity. The grid just made my head spin! [JB]
Bonkers! (In the best possible way…). Perhaps the most ambitious grid ever set, and probably only Sirius could have pulled this off. The hardest part was getting one’s head around the directions and right spaces to enter the answers. It was a very generous puzzle, in that once the main theme was cracked (fairly quickly), it had so much to help us along the way to completion (especially the coloured longitudinal lines). It was a huge amount of fun, though. Thank you, Sirius. [MS]
Well, this puzzle proves that our now much-lower-profile and much-missed Sirius has lost none of his ingenuity, originality and sheer brilliance! i nearly gave this one a miss, as it took me ages to get to grips with any of it, but I’m so glad I persevered!! [SF]
A fabulous grid from Sirius as always, so cleverly put together and packed with content, just amazing! [AR]
Great stuff…but what a mental workout. Good job I’m not a blonde. [SW]
Superbly constructed grid, wonderful clues [DB]
A wonderful and appropriate tribute to two well loved individuals. Very clever – and some tricky elements in it! Lots of neat allusions to films and songs associated with the lamented Norma Jean, although the Diana references are more subtle. [SB]
Hard clues. He almost didn’t complete. [RG]
Great puzzle and amazing construction of the grid. A lovely theme, linking the two anniversaries, and some devious clueing! Thanks to all. [BS]
Excellently constructed with plenty of thematic material [MD]
A stunning puzzle and grid construction – I presume the two anniversaries are the deaths of Marilyn Monroe (Aug 1962) and Princess Diana (Aug 1997). Took a while for the penny to drop, but once it did that helped with some of the longer phrases. Many thanks to Sirius – a tour-de-force! [MC]
Wow an impressive array of clues and trivia. I can’t imagine how much work it took to pull it all together. We had a very long train journey so thank you very much for keeping us entertained the whole way! [AH]